HCMC woman with pre-existing health conditions beats Covid

By Pham Nga   August 29, 2021 | 08:34 pm PT
Thu Ha felt as if the world was ending when her quick Covid-19 test result confirmed she had contracted the virus on Aug. 5.

Ha has lived with Parkinson's disease for 15 years along with a series of other underlying illnesses, including bone tuberculosis and herniated disc. She often uses a wheelchair to travel around. But on normal days, she still leans on the wall or walks around the house with a cane, holding the stairs to reach the terrace where she grows vegetables.

So when she heard there was an epidemic in Ho Chi Minh City, Ha closed her doors and strictly followed the stay-at-home order.

"I don't know who I got it from. I only live with my husband and he had two jabs already," said the 59-year-old woman in Binh Thanh District.

Two days before getting her first vaccine shot, she experienced Covid symptoms like coughing and mild fever, which she thought to be a common flu. That day, HCMC recorded 3,886 Covid-19 infections. She didn't think one day she would be one of them.

After a minute of panic, Ha reassured herself and asked the doctor for home treatment methods.

"For the past 15 years I have told myself to always try harder than other people, now it is even more necessary," she said.

On the way home, the couple made a quarantine plan and determined to strictly comply with preventive measures.

Her husband, Binh Hung, later slept in another bedroom. Ha also prepared a separate set of dishes and utensils, washed immediately with hot water after eating.

"I asked my wife if she needs help with anything," the 61-year-old husband said.

Thu Ha treats Covid-19 at her home in Binh Thanh District, HCMC. Photo courtesy of Ha

Thu Ha at her home in Binh Thanh District, HCMC. Photo courtesy of Ha

Alone in the room, the woman opened the window to breathe in the fresh air. However, she did not dare go out to the balcony to soak in the sun. Four people in her neighbor tested positive and one person died from Covid-19.

During her free time, she played with a rubik's cube to avoid negative thoughts. She also placed water and medicine close to her bed, making sure they were within her reach at night.

Every day, she sent a text message to a doctor she knew to update her health status.

Hearing she was infected with the virus, a friend sent her a blood oxygen meter. Others sent over vegetables and fruit. Messages also came rushing in, forcing Ha to tell her friend to stop asking about her well being so she could focus on recovering.

Hung mainly cooked porridge, rice, noodles and other easy-to-swallow dishes. He set his own ringtone for his wife's phone number so he could know exactly when she called. He also put bottles of alcohol spray disinfectant in each room of the house and sprayed them whenever he touched his wife's set of utensils.

Ha also carefully studied breathing methods and practiced them every day even though she did not have severe symptoms.

On the ninth day, Covid began tormenting her with soaring blood pressure and a fever of more than 38 degrees Celsius. At night, she could only sleep an hour, sometimes feeling drowsy, and losing consciousness. She vomited out the porridge cooked by her husband and experienced shortness of breath.

"You must breathe, you must breathe," she urged herself.

But the encouraging messages from her two sons abroad and the sound of her husband cleaning up outside motived her to get up. Every time she opened her eyes, she scooped up a small spoonful of porridge and tried her best to swallow.

On the 12th day, the fever subsided while the pain grew less intense. Ha was able to sit up against the wall.

When she was sober, she practiced singing to avoid negative thoughts, although she lost her breath after a few sentences. Outside the kitchen, Hung played the piano or the guitar. Seeing his wife silent for a long time, he texted: "Sing for me honey."

"If it weren't for him, I probably wouldn't have gotten back up," she said.

On the 13th day, Hung booked an appointment with medics to test his wife for Covid. Ha's results remained positive, but the virus concentration had decreased significantly.

On the 22nd day, Ha was able to stand up and walk around the house while leaning against the wall. She went out to the balcony to bask in the sun, visit the kitchen that she longed to touch during her days in bed, then held the stairs, step by step to visit the terrace vegetable garden.

However, being attacked by the virus, Ha's strength is no longer the same as before. Just taking a bath or cooking makes her have to lean against the wall to catch her breath.

"I have found that to overcome Covid-19, along with appropriate treatment, the encouragement of loved ones and a mindset of never giving up are crucial," Ha said. "I am also very lucky to have doctors who enthusiastically support me, a loving husband by my side, children and friends who support me both spiritually and physically."

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